Highly Gifted Children
The Hollingworth Center
Vol. 10, No. 4
This article is a list of practical strategies for dealing with the frustrations and challenges of parenting highly gifted children. This "survival kit" was developed by Betty Meckstroth and a group of parents at the conference of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children. These survival skills were developed, tested, and refined in the best laboratory of all - the daily lives of the families of highly gifted children.
This survival kit was developed by Betty Meckstroth and a group of parents attending the 1988 annual conference of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children. These survival skills were developed, tested, and refined in the best laboratory of all-the daily lives of the families of highly gifted children!
What to Do When You're Feeling FRUSTRATION, ANGER, OR GUILT
- Nurture yourself first, so you will have the patience and energy to provide for your child.
- Prepare ahead of time. Recharge your inner self before taking on tasks and battles.
Enlighten yourself with possibilities. Education = Knowledge.
- Actively involve those who work with your child. Educate them.
- Take a brief 'sabbatical' when you're feeling tired or upset.
- Make an ongoing commitment to gifted education and to developing educational options for children. The larger problem isn't fixed just with our own children.
- Involve children in decision-making processes. Acknowledge their goals.
- Become involved with support groups.
- Remember that these are children, not just intellects. Consider age-appropriate activities.
- Validate new rules and standards.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Relish your accomplishments!
- DON'T GIVE UP!
What to Do When You're Feeling TAKEN OVER
- Make time for yourself alone if things are too stressful.
- Schedule work/alone time when you cannot be disturbed. Schedule time for yourself in your appointment book and in your children's schedules.
- Go for a walk with your spouse. Make time for just the two of you.
- Foster independence. Have children take more responsibilities around the home (e.g., making breakfasts or lunches).
- Set and keep bedtimes, whether the children are tired or not. This will allow more adult time.
- Hold a family council.
- Allow someone else to meet some of your children' s needs.
- Bring teenagers into your home to help with toddlers.
- Resolve your own issues so that you can respond better to your children's.
- Create your own personal space in the house ('a room of one's own'.
- Have relatives and friends develop special relationships with your children.
What to Do When You're Feeling ISOLATED
- Encourage children to connect with other children who have common interests.
- Strengthen, form or lead local and national organizations.
- Connect with other parents of highly gifted children.
- Find support for your child through adult role models, counselors, etc.
- Locate clubs and organizations appropriate to your child' s interests (Scouts, 4-H, Campfire, academic or creative competitions, etc.)
- Organize family-centered activities.
- Find groups that provide good leaders, preferably those that will help you and your child form relationships.
- Become extroverted in actions that will benefit your child.
What to Do When You LACK TIME AND ENERGY
- Acknowledge your limitations. Allow for imperfections and your own humanness.
- Set priorities; find a balance. Use time wisely, perhaps in promising advocacy approaches or additional quality time with your child.
- Parents need to nurture themselves as parents. Add to your own repertoire of coping skills.
- Take time away from problems to be quiet and to reflect. Consider how much time is wasted. Can you restructure or eliminate some less essential tasks?